Monday, April 27, 2015

My Safe Place to Land

Last weekend I drove to Iowa to move my parents from their home of 40 years on the farm to their new home in town.    I was five years old when they moved into this house.   I have no memory to speak of, of any home before this one.

As the week drew shorter leading up to the move, I found myself feeling very emotional.   As I received updates from my sister on the state of the move, I would cry, or be sad, or find myself just sitting and looking at pictures trying to burn them into my head.  I was so afraid that once mom and dad moved from the house, I would forget everything.   And in this case, everything meant a great portion of my life.    Like somehow THIS house contained my childhood, good times and sad times, and when it was gone……that would be too.

So I started making a list of things I didn’t want to forget.  

I didn’t want to forget the dinging sound that the flagpole made when the wind blew hard.

I didn’t want to forget which stairs to skip to make sure not to make noise when you got home after curfew.

I didn’t want to forget the time my brother and sister scared the bejeezus out of me by hiding at the end of the hall in a clown mask and jumping out when I came upstairs.  (and to this day the hallway always makes me jumpy in the dark)

I wanted to remember every birthday, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  We laughed a LOT in this house.

I also wanted to remember the losses.   From people to marriages.   This house was ALWAYS a soft place to land.

I was afraid of forgetting how we picked apples in the orchard, baled hay, climbed in the barn, rode horses in the ring, flew kites on windy days, sledded down the driveway, swung on the homemade swing set. 

We had Easter Egg hunts in the yard that sometimes got physical.

We got stuck in the snow in the driveway.

We had snapping turtles show up from the pond, and stray dogs all the time.

I was afraid to forget all the pets that we had laid to rest on the hill in the pasture. 

I didn’t’ want to lose the images of so much and the list went on and on….

It was heartbreaking, but we knew it was best for mom and dad.   It was the next chapter.   And we had to move things out.

I arrived on Friday, and by mid day Saturday, almost everything was moved to the new home.    And something pretty amazing happened.   As each piece of furniture was moved, as each box left the house….so did the amazing energy that this beautiful farmhouse held for me for all those years.    And as we moved them into the new house, the energy moved too. 

For you see…..I realized that what I was afraid of losing…..the memories…..the sense of comfort that I have always gotten from driving up that long driveway…..was not the house, but the contents.   And not just the stuff….but the people who had shared these memories with me.

And as soon as mom heated up the “sloppy joes” we had for lunch on Saturday and the new house smelled with that familiar scent, and we all convened for our first real meal at the new house…..I knew we’d be fine.   Because it isn’t the house, but the people in it that make the home.   And my worry of forgetting has faded a little.   We won’t ever let ourselves forget because when we are together….we remember.   We tell stories.  We love each other.

So, on Sunday when we finished cleaning, and we five stood in the house together, there was hesitation to walk out.   We took a picture on the porch of just the five of us…just as we came to it nearly 40 years ago.  No one wanted to be first, to leave our home for so long.   It was bittersweet.  But we left.   And we drove down the lane.   And we headed to town to the new house.  

And once we arrived, we started laughing through our tears, and I knew we’d be okay.   Because it isn’t the house that contains the family, it is the family that occupies the house.  And we've just decided to occupy another.